A New Virus is Attacking North America’s Wild Turkey Populations

Texas Deer Association

 A New Virus is Attacking North America’s Wild Turkey Populations


Hunters chasing down their Thanksgiving gobblers may not be able to detect virus from sight alone

As Thanksgiving nears and gravy-drenched pieces of hot turkey induce culinary daydreams, wildlife biologists are trying to connect the dots on a virus that has started to infect North America’s wild turkey population.

Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus, known as LPDV, has been present in domestic turkeys in Europe and Israel for decades, but in the last few years, biologists have started confirming cases in wild turkeys in the eastern United States. Some of the infected birds have lesions on their head and feet, although many of the sick fowl are not symptomatic, making their identification difficult.

Wild turkeys draw their ecological importance from being an integral part of the food chain. Gobblers, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, provide sustenance to predators like coyotes, foxes, hawks, owls, and people, among other mammals. A landscape without wild turkeys is one that would affect the hunting community and small predators.

At this point, there seems to be as many unknowns about LPDV’s spread in the United States as there is confirmed information, but the researchers are working on answers.

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